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Hon. Nancy Johnson
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Hon. Nancy Johnson (Ret.)

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business & Commercial
Civil Rights
Cybersecurity & Privacy
Employment Law
Federal Law
Governmental/Public Agency
Intellectual Property
Maritime & Admiralty Law
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

The Honorable Nancy Johnson (Ret.) served for 30 years as a U.S. magistrate judge in Houston, Texas, before joining JAMS in September 2020. Judge Johnson has authored hundreds of opinions on most areas of federal practice, including employment, governmental agencies, insurance, commercial litigation, intellectual property, contracts, torts, civil rights and admiralty. During her time on the bench, she was known for her strong legal writing, her no-nonsense attitude and her ability to cut to the heart of a dispute. She was also a sought-after mediator, settling hundreds of cases ranging from simple employment disputes to complex business and intellectual property disputes. Judge Johnson believes that mediation is an effective tool when both parties understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the litigation process.

Judge Johnson has spoken on a variety of topics, including civil procedure, admiralty and alternative dispute resolution.

Prior to taking the bench, Judge Johnson defended the government in employment, tort and regulatory cases, and she pursued statutory enforcement and forfeiture actions brought by various federal agencies. She exclusively prosecuted white-collar and tax offenses for more than four years.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Accounting/Finance
  • Admiralty
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Employment
  • Government/Public Agency
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Personal Injury/Torts

Representative Matters

  • Accounting/Finance
      • Vitol v. United States of America, 4: 18cv2275, 2020 WL 1442136 (Feb. 25, 2020): Considered whether butane qualified as a liquefied petroleum gas and whether alternative fuel tax credits were available for sale of butane when mixed with a taxable fuel such as diesel or gasoline

      • Crummey v. United States of America, 4:15cv980, 2017 WL 4286410 (Sept. 5, 2017): Considered whether there were fact issues concerning the application of payments to tax deficiencies in several years

  • Business & Commercial
      • Giries v. Howmedica Osteonics Corp., 4:14cv1808, 2016 WL 1274743 (Apr. 1, 2016): Considered whether certain actions of former employee violated a noncompete clause in an employment contract 
      • Dresser-Rand Company v. Schutte & Koerting Acquisition Company,4:12cv184, 2017 WL 2304443 (Mar. 15, 2017): Managed complex trade secret case and considered whether actions of defendant violated a preliminary injunction 
      • Quicksilver Resources, Inc. v. Eagle Drilling, LLC, 4: 08cv868, 2010 WL 4115406 (Aug. 31, 2010): Considered validity of claims in light of the assignment of some, but not all, contractual rights and obligations
  • Civil Rights
      • Estate of Baker v. Castro, 4:15cv3495, 2018 WL 4762984 (Aug. 31, 2018): Found fact issues precluded summary judgment on qualified immunity and Monell liability in fatal police shooting
      • Charlot v. City of Houston, 4:15cv3028, 2017 WL 6060108, aff’d 2018 WL 6505519: Found qualified immunity for officers after a state magistrate authorized a body cavity search
      • Hicks-Field v. Harris County, Texas, aff’d 860 F.3d 803 (5th Cir. 2017): Considered whether decedent’s family raised a fact issue of Monell liability based on excessive use of force by jail personnel 
      • Kossman Contracting Co. v. City of Houston, 2016 WL 11473826 (Feb. 17, 2016): Considered the constitutionality of the city’s minority contracting policy, which set up goals for awards of contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses
  • Cybersecurity & Privacy
      • DHI Group, Inc. v. Kent, 4:16cv1670, 2019 WL 3754859 (July 12, 2019): Considered whether data scrapes and backdoor intrusions into competitor’s database violated the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
      • Alliantgroup, L.P. v. Mols, 4:16cv3114, (Sept. 17, 2018): Issued death penalty sanctions after defendant wiped a laptop that was alleged to have improperly accessed the plaintiff’s database
  • Employment Law
      • Norman v. QES Wireline, LLC, 4:16cv2396, 2019 WL 4674957 (Aug. 30, 2019): Managed large FLSA class action involving wireline operators and engineers; interpreted motor carrier exemption in light of the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008
      • Senegal v. Fairfield Industries, Inc., 2018 WL 6079354 (Nov. 21, 2018): Managed FLSA class action involving seismic and marine workers, and interpreted various exemptions under the FLSA
      • Noel v. Shell Oil Company, 4:15cv1087, 2017 WL 4083604 (Aug. 16, 2017): Considered whether domestic parent company was properly deemed the employer for purposes of claims of race, gender and national origin discrimination by a foreign subsidiary and whether plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence of discrimination and retaliation to proceed to trial for actions taken by parent company
      • Strickler v. Hobby Lobby, 4:16cv1256, (Mar. 30, 2018): Considered whether plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence of retaliation based on the protected activity of speaking up for female co-workers
      • Woods v. Riverbend Country Club, Inc., 2018 WL 4443140 (Aug. 30, 2018): Upheld plan administrator’s determination of no coverage based on several Plan exemptions
      • Huerta v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 4:19cv1107, 2020 WL 974943 (Jan. 22, 2020): Considered whether the claims administrator breached a fiduciary duty to a plan participant when it failed to inform him of his options for the continuation of his life insurance policy after his termination
      • James v. Life Insurance Company of North America, 4:12cv2095, 2015 WL 4126580 (July 8, 2015):  Considered whether decedent’s blood alcohol level being in excess of the state’s legal limit qualified as a “covered accident”
  • Governmental/Public Agency
      • Brown v. Harris County Housing Authority, 4:2018 WL 3080880: Considered whether the housing authority violated the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act or 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when it denied the plaintiff the ability to rent a three-bedroom house from her mother
  • Insurance
      • Garcia v. Liberty Insurance Corporation, 2019 WL 825883 (Jan. 17, 2019): Interpreted Texas estoppel rule and insurance contract after appraisal award payment was challenged as untimely
      • Greystone Multi-Family Builders, Inc. v. Gemini Insurance Company, 4:17cv921, 2018 WL 3080890 (Feb. 26, 2018): Considered whether an insurer had a duty to defend a claim arising out of defective construction of an apartment complex in light of certain policy exclusions and whether poor-quality workmanship fell within the definition of covered property damage
  • Intellectual Property
      • Baisden v. I’m Ready Productions, 4:08cv451, 2010 WL 3766533 (Sept. 22, 2010): Considered the rights of contracting parties to contested ownership of copyrights to novels, related stage plays and merchandise; the running of limitations; and whether equitable defenses were available
      • Moody v. Aqua Leisure International, Inc., 4:10cv1961, 2012 WL 5335842: Issued Markman ruling construing claims on a patented low-rise water ride
      • Sentinel Integrity Solutions, Inc. v. Mistras Group, Inc., 4:10cv1576, 2011 WL 13258115 (Sept. 1, 2011): Considered whether the plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence of likelihood of confusion to proceed to trial and whether an expert was qualified to render an opinion based on his experience and internet research
      • We-Flex, LLC v. NBSP, Inc., 4:11cv1078, 2012 WL 1440439 (Apr. 25, 2012): Considered whether the plaintiff stated a claim for violation of the False Marking Statute 35 U.S.C. § 292(a)
  • Maritime & Admiralty Law
      • Topoil AB v. M/V Oruc Reis, 4:15cv460, 2016 WL 11474777 (Aug. 15, 2016): Considered whether under Swedish law, a choice-of-law provision in an order confirmation could be incorporated into a bunker sales contract and therefore give rise to a maritime lien
      • Agribusiness United DMCC v. Blue Water Shipping Company, Inc., 4:16cv2249, 2017 WL 1354144: Found no personal jurisdiction over freight forwarding company based on minimal business operations within Texas
  • Personal Injury Torts
      • Rubi v. MTD Products, Inc., 2016 WL 7638150 (Dec. 13, 2016): Considered whether to permit a defendant to file a third-party action against a settling defendant and whether contribution and indemnity were available against the settling party
      • Taylor v. Taser International, Inc., 4:17cv673, 2019 WL 1434213 (Mar. 29, 2019): Considered whether expert testimony met the minimum threshold for admissibility and whether the plaintiff raised triable issues of defective product design or manufacture and breach of an express or implied warranty  
      • Trenado v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, 4:08cv249, 2010 WL 9546053 (Jan. 26, 2010): In consideration of various issues, including facts to find defendant strictly liable for design defects, whether plaintiff had evidence of a safer alternative design or a producing cause, whether there was sufficient evidence that the driver of the vehicle was negligent per se and whether any of several federal or state statutes preempted plaintiff’s claims of defective product design or permitted defenses to liability

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Houston Bar Association
  • President, Federal Bar Association, 1991–1992
  • Member, Texas State Bar


  • Speaker, “Mediation Before U.S. Magistrate Judges,” Houston Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, 2020
  • Speaker, “Seizure of Vessels and Cargo,” University of Texas School of Law Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference, 2019
  • Panelist, “When to Hold and When to Scold: Ethical Aspects of Sentencing and Detention,” Southern District of Texas Bench & Bar Conference, 2019
  • Guest Lecturer, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Worcester College, Oxford University, Summer Abroad Program, University of Oklahoma College of Law, 2018
  • Panelist, “Motion Practice: What’s New and What Can be Improved,” Southern District of Texas Bench and Bar Conference, 2017
  • Speaker, “Update on Changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,” Houston Bar Association Federal Practice Section, 2015

Background and Education

  • Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, 1990–2020
  • Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of Texas, 1982–1990
    • Criminal Division, Tax Prosecution Unit, 1986–1990
    • Civil Division, 1982–1986
  • Assistant Attorney General, Environmental Protection Division, State of Texas, 1980–1982
  • Assistant Attorney General, Administrative Agencies Division, State of Ohio, 1978–1980
  • J.D., University of Cincinnati, 1978
    • Moot Court, Tax Team
  • B.A., magna cum laude, University of Cincinnati, 1975


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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